LOS ANGELES – By the sweat of her brow, 38-year-old Raquel, has managed to keep her family off the street.
She works six days a week as a cook on a food truck. But when the pandemic hit, she, like millions of others, lost her job.
What You Need To Know
- Stimulus checks for undocumented immigrants come from Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants
- The program has been controversial, with vocal opposition and lawsuits
- There are around 2.5 million undocumented people living in California
- One organization's assistance line has received 1,137,000 phone calls
“It really affected me, because I just started to work again. We stopped for a long time, March, April and we just opened back up two weeks ago,” said Raquel in Spanish.
Unlike most Americans, Raquel, who is four months pregnant, had no one to turn to. She is ineligible for unemployment benefits and won’t get a federal stimulus check because she is undocumented.
“I got behind on rent a lot. All those months that I didn’t work, I owe, and now that I’m working, every penny is going towards paying back rent,” said Raquel.
When she heard that California would be giving out its own state stimulus checks to undocumented people through the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants program, she felt like support was on the way.
“It would help me a lot, it would help me with rent especially which is what I’m worried about the most,” said Raquel.
Local nonprofits are in-charge of distributing the funds, but the need from more than two-and-half million undocumented immigrants in the state has been overwhelming.
“I was on the phone calling and calling and calling. I started called at 6 in the morning until about 3 in the afternoon when the phone battery died. The process was difficult,” said Raquel.
Days after the program began accepting applications, she still hasn’t been able to sign up.
“I feel frustrated because the need is there and to think that I might not qualify, or that I won’t be able to get help, to get access, before the money runs out, it’s frustrating,” said Raquel.
At just after 3 p.m. her 12-hour shift is almost over. By this point her feet are often swollen. She will get paid $50 for her work here today.
She says although the state check would help, she is not expecting it, after all, she has learned that there is no real safety net for the undocumented. So she will be back tomorrow on the same food truck, on the same street.